German Police Raid Yacht of Russian Oligarch Alisher Usmanov

Published: 27 September 2022

Dilbar-Barcelona 2017 UsmanovThe Dilbar, with its two helipads and 60 cabins, is one of the largest yachts in the world. (Photo: Alberto-g-rovi, Wikimedia, License)

By Josef Skrdlik

German police raided on Tuesday the luxury yacht of a Russian businessman suspected of laundering hundreds of millions via offshore companies, the Frankfurt Public Prosecutor's Office said. German media reported that the megayacht belongs to sanctioned Uzbek-born oligarch Alisher Usmanov.

The search of the yacht followed last week’s raid of Usmanov’s luxurious properties located on the shore of Lake Tegernsee in southern Bavaria.

Authorities raided the villa in Bavaria and the megayacht Dilbar — one the largest luxury vessels in the world — searching for evidence of money laundering. Prosecutors suspect Usmanov has laundered hundreds of millions over the years.

The statement by the Frankfurt Prosecutor said the suspect conducted several financial transactions between 2017 and 2022, using “an extensive and complex network of companies, mainly in so-called offshore states.”

“There is a suspicion that the transferred sums of money originate from crimes, in particular from tax evasion,” it added.

The statement said that the operational measures also served to implement a request for legal assistance by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Prosecutor’s Office said that 60 investigators searched the megayacht.

The Dilbar is stuck in northern Germany since authorities seized it in April in response to EU sanctions targeting individuals close to the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Previously moored in Hamburg, the vessel was moved to Bremen last week.

In theory, all of Usmanov’s assets in the EU should have been frozen on February 28, when the EU announced the sanctions in response to Moscow’s renewed invasion of Ukraine.

However, the OCCRP reported earlier this year that the oligarch has spent years shuffling money around the world among various relatives, shell companies and trusts to conceal their ownership.

For example, Usmanov’s sister, who is a gynecologist in Tashkent, is listed as the beneficial owner of 27 Swiss bank accounts holding hundreds of millions of dollars, most of which are connected to his business empire.

These machinations make it difficult to track down the oligarch’s assets and subject them to the sanctions.